Walton Ford

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Walton Ford
Walton Ford 2011 (2).jpg
Born 1960
Larchmont, New York
Nationality American
Education Rhode Island School of Design
Known for Watercolor painting

Walton Ford (born 1960 in Larchmont, New York) is an American artist who makes paintings and prints in the style of Audubon's naturalist illustrations. Each of his paintings is a meticulous study in flora and fauna, while being filled with symbols, clues and jokes referencing a multitude of texts from colonial literature and folktales to travel guides. Ford's paintings are complex narratives that critique the history of colonialism, industrialism, politics, natural science, and humanity's effect on the environment. His prints are meticulous and fastidious in execution. Dying Words from 2005 is a combination color etching, aquatint and drypoint on paper in the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art. In this print, the extinct Carolina parakeet replaces people in Benjamin West's famous painting, The Death of General Wolfe.

Walton Ford appropriates the crisp, descriptive style of 19th-century naturalists and artists—John James Audubon, Karl Bodmer, George Catlin—but he puts their conventions to work in an investigation of natural history itself.

Repurposing a field-guide aesthetic, Ford composes dense allegories that make sometimes pointed, sometimes sidelong allusions to everything from conservationism and consumption to war, politics and imperialism.

While staying uncannily faithful to the natural history mode, Ford paints on a much larger scale, producing outsize watercolors with epic compositions. He renders his scenes with operatic drama, capturing moments when the natural order changes, such as the last member of a species struggling just before extinction.”[1]

Dying Words, 2005, color etching, aquatint and drypoint on paper by Walton Ford, Honolulu Museum of Art

Ford left the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island in 1982 with a BFA degree.

Walton Ford is the recipient of several national awards and honors including a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and is one of the artists profiled on the PBS series Art:21. He had his first major one-man show at the Brooklyn Museum in 2006 and is currently represented by the Paul Kasmin Gallery in Manhattan. In 2010, the retrospective "Walton Ford: Bestiarium" traveled from the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum Fur Gegenwart in Berlin to the Albertina in Vienna, finishing at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark in 2011. His work is included in the collections of the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2012, Ford designed the cover art for the Rolling Stones greatest hits album, GRRR!, which commemorated the band's 50th Anniversary.

Ford lives and works in New York City.



  1. ^ William Hanley (December 20, 2006), THE AI INTERVIEW: Walton Ford, ARTINFO, retrieved 2008-04-24 

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